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AmEx to avoid job cuts as it rides out coronavirus storm

(Reuters) – American Express Co (AXP.N) will avoid job cuts in 2020 as the credit card issuer “rides out the storm” brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Chief Executive Officer Steve Squeri said in a video message to employees on LinkedIn.

FILE PHOTO: American Express and American Express corporate cards are pictured in Encinitas, California October 17, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

As the virus outbreak hits business volumes, AmEx has moved from a largely brick-and-mortar operation to having more than 60,000 employees equipped to work from home and two-thirds of its customer-care professionals working remotely, Squeri said.

AmEx said earlier this month that spending volumes fell at the end of February and well into March as the pandemic wreaks havoc on consumer spending, leading the company to forecast low-single-digit percentage revenue growth for the first quarter.

The virus has upended the retail industry as shoppers stay at home to avoid catching the highly contagious illness and stores remain shut.

Mastercard Inc (MA.N), Visa Inc (V.N) and PayPal Holdings Inc (PYPL.O) have also warned of slowing revenue growth due to the outbreak.

AmEx’s volumes in March have declined dramatically and continue to decline, Squeri said on Monday.

“The Executive Committee and I are going through a planning process right now to determine how we can reduce our expenses in the short term as we ride out this storm,” he said.

“As we go through this process, the one thing I intend to avoid is layoffs in 2020,” he said, adding that with everything that everyone and their families are going through due to the crisis, job cuts were not consistent with the company’s values.

U.S. big banks have also been postponing decisions about staff cuts, with executives saying they were unsure how long the outbreak will hurt the economy and worried about being unprepared if business suddenly snaps back.

AmEx will also institute a temporary, company-wide external hiring freeze to help cut costs.

The company has 64,000 employees worldwide.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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